Castle Combe - 24th and 25th July - Race Report
The midway point in our season would see the championship travel to Castle Combe for the first time. This would be our “away day”, and we were included in the Dunlop Great and British package. Dunlop provided their popular hospitality café, which dispensed free soft drinks, tea and coffee to our teams and drivers. How many took advantage of this?
We had one race each day, which meant an overnight stay. The circuit provided a very popular carvery, which at £5 per person was extremely good value, plus a two man group to keep us musically entertained. With scrutineering “in situ”, it made us feel a little less aggrieved at the higher than normal entry fee.
Practice saw the inclusion of some local drivers wishing to tackle us on home ground. It was nice to see they were competitive in both classes A and E, hopefully they may travel up to our local tracks. Rod secured pole position even though he missed the second chicane on his first lap. His excuse was that they weren’t here when he last raced at Combe 12 years ago. However, he says it has always been a good track for him so despite its undulations (bumps) he quickly got into a good rhythm. Lining up second was Kris Waite, having re-built his Sapphire after the Snetterton mishap. Steve Turvey secured third spot with his quick Subaru Impreza from another local driver Russell Humprey in a Mitsubishi Evo 5. Nick Williamson fancied his chances here after visiting the circuit at least three times earlier this year. A flat battery restricted him to fifth, but we did help re-charge it for him. Next up was Richard Brent, using knowledge as a circuit instructor, he still ended the session being towed back when the distributor cap broke. David Oates and Tony Ryan occupied the fourth row with Ashley Hargeaves and another local man, Julian Howell in a Mini taking ninth and tenth. The rest of the 30 car grid is on the results page.
The first race was slightly confusing as some drivers did not realise it was a rolling start. Admittedly the programme and final instructions did say standing start for one race and rolling for the other!!! Rod and Kris got away cleaning but Turvey almost stopped causing a bit of last minute swerving in avoidance. Some of the cars near the back were also “asleep”, but everyone soon got into the groove. Nick soon made it up to second and looked like he was going to give Rod a good run, but on lap four he clipped the marker tyres at the Esses and pulled off with damaged steering. Kris had initially slipped back to fourth behind the white Mitsi, but got his head down with Nick’s demise, and re-appeared in second on lap five. He now set about closing on Rod, which he started to do. By the chequered flag the gap was down to just under three seconds, with Kris lapping only 0.3 seconds slower. Meanwhile Humphrey retired the Mitsubishi with a blown head gasket and Tony Ryan had made good progress up to third, passing Turvey’s Subaru. Oates managed a slightly distant fifth from the battling duo of Hargeaves and Gane, which went to the Peugeot driver by 0.8 of a second.
Howell won class E, once Brent had pulled off with a recurrance of his distributor problem. Mitchell took second in class from the pretty Britax Mini of Peter Crewes. David Smart had a good run to class B victory and last unlapped runner. The usual class B pace setter, Graham Bahr, had to start from the back of the grid following practice dramas. Richardson beat the BMW Mini of Mike Edgell, which had been involved in a coming together with Les Beer. Both cars received some damage and Les had to pull off due to deranged steering. Anthony Ahmed lead an interesting group which included class D victor Greg Pye, who also won the Quaife “best prepared car award”. Russell Harding held off Gary Cole and Russell Bradley, which earnt master Harding the “driver of the race” award. Ribbens, Wickens and Cherry circulated close together, whilst Tim Dodwell was pleased to get his Scirocco to the finish without a major problem. Verity Banks (our first lady racer in the championship) completed the runners after Ray Barrow pulled off with a broken actuator arm.
No problems with the second start, although fellow front row starter Kris Waite did not appear due to his engine consuming a lot of water the previous day. Ryan was slightly slow away, selecting fifth gear instead of third does tend to handicap a turbo car. Turvey took full advantage and slotted into second, whilst a quick group of cars comprising Williamson, Humphrey, Barrow, Brent and Beer were tearing through from the back of the grid. Turvey held second until lap six when he pulled off, just as Nick Williamson appeared on the scene. Nick was really trying hard but Rod was long gone, in fact the black Escort was lapping a whole second faster (quickest being 1 minute 12.82 seconds) to establish a new lap record. Ryan eventually came in third after a titanic battle with Humphrey, which was much appreciated by the sizeable crowd.
Oates had a good run to fifth, bagging more valuable points, and Hargreaves again held off Gane, a feat which was rewarded by the “driver of the race” award. Brent made it to the front of class E, but Howell kept him honest, and Mitchell was not far back in third. Clewes’s Mini came in 11th just in front of Ray Barrow, the final unlapped runner. Smart took class B honours, but he did have class A runner Ahmed close on his tail, followed by Bristow. Richardson managed to keep Edgell’s Mini between him and Les Beer, whilst the next group was headed by Bahr from Pye and Harding. Their other sparring partner, Andy Wickens, had an incident going into Bobbies which resulted in contact with the tyre wall and retirement. Bradley dropped back slightly from this group, but he was happy to reach the finish twice. Ribbens was shadowed by Cherry and Dodwell had Verity Banks for company.
It was a good weekend. The circuit coach ride was good fun for those who went on it, and generally we were all made to feel very welcome. The spectators enjoyed seeing our cars and chatting to our drivers. There is a one month gap now until Brands on the Indy circuit on July 23rd. The grid is already full!!!